This video interview was originally posted on SMB Group Spotlight.
Laurie: Hi, this is Laurie McCabe here with SMB Group’s SMB Spotlight. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Sharon Rowlands, the relatively new CEO of ReachLocal. Sharon was brought into ReachLocal earlier this year to help transform the company. Sharon, thanks for talking to me today.
Sharon: Absolute pleasure Laurie.
Laurie: Great. Before we get started can you just tell me a little bit about who ReachLocal is and how you got started and what the company does?
Sharon: Sure, absolutely. ReachLocal was founded over 10 years ago to really help local businesses with their digital marketing needs. It was a time when advertising dollars were still mainly going to print and Yellow Pages. As the Internet became a stronger way in which consumers looked for services, ReachLocal was established to help local businesses tap into that.
Laurie: That’s kind of hard to believe thinking back now that only 10 years ago where we were using Yellow Pages and things like that.
Laurie: So dialing forward a bit what does ReachLocal stand for today, what’s the business about today?
Sharon: The business today is still about helping local businesses get more customers. Most local businesses are small, and we are still all about helping them get found online wherever consumers are searching. What has changed is clearly the number of places consumers search has expanded. So local businesses now have to worry about being found on search engines, found on digital directories, found on social media. Then they need to be able to manage all that digital traffic in an effective way.
Laurie: I think it’s getting more and more pressurized because there are so many channels that you have to get out through, between social media and search, and if you’re a brick and mortar company you’re still doing things in the physical world. How do you help small businesses get their arms around this, manage it and break through the noise when you have the big companies with big budgets and more resources?
Sharon: Right. Well, I think it’s a couple of things but firstly really being a one-stop shop for them because it’s overwhelming to think you have to manage all these different online venues. So ReachLocal does it all for the small business in one place.
We have a really amazing technology platform that optimizes across all of the platforms and makes sure that we’re actually getting you the most leads for your money. Then secondly what we do with our ReachEdge platform, similar to a marketing automation system, we help the local business manage those leads and provide analytics around what’s working and conversion. We have great technology but we really believe the business wants help as well–so we also bring great service and expertise to make sure their campaigns are working for them.
Laurie: Can you tell me a little bit about what would be like for a typical small business, maybe a real estate company or a dental practice, what would you do for them start to finish?
Sharon: Let me give you a real life example. I just talked the other week with a relatively new client, six months, up in the Bay Area, a plumber. He has 10 contractors on staff. What we did for him was we set him with our ReachEdge platform which gives him a mobile optimized website which is really important because over 50% of searches are being done by mobile, and that’s just growing.
Laurie: And that’s all integrated into the platform?
Sharon: That’s all integrated into the platform. We then run all his advertising campaigns across digital display and search engine. We do retargeting campaigns for him. All of the lead intake, which is both phone and web forms, come into one place, get categorized, and alerts him to how he has to follow-up and then really tracks those leads through to conversion and getting new clients. He can really see the ROI in what his digital marketing spend is doing for him. His performance in terms of customer growth has been incredible in the last six months.
Laurie: I think a lot of times without that automation a lot of leads and people you bring into the database they just fall through the cracks, you don’t follow up because you’re overwhelmed trying to do plumbing or whatever your business is.
Sharon: Absolutely. You’ve really hit something really, really important. So much of the industry talks about lead generation. You might get a great lead but unless you follow-up and convert it it’s still been a waste of your money. Typically small businesses, because they’re so busy on their business actually lead conversion tends to get really neglected and one of the things we’re passionate about with ReachLocal is really helping clients convert effectively, not just get them leads.
Laurie: Do you also help them manage or improve their repeat business, referral business, are there elements to that once you have a customer. It’s not just like a one shot deal, you’re bringing them into the fold so to speak?
Sharon: Right. Well I think we really encourage our customers to use best practices in terms of email marketing and great content. At the end of the day content really is foundational. They can set up lead nurturing campaigns within ReachEdge platform. Our primary focus really is getting them customers.
Laurie: Getting them new business, which in every one of our surveys, is the number one for small business. What do you think makes ReachLocal really stand out? There’s a lot of competitors that are pitching similar things, what do you think makes you different especially when it comes to the smaller company?
Sharon: Okay, I think a couple of things. Number one I think we really are a one-stop digital shop for small business. That’s very important because it’s overwhelming for them to think about dealing with different partners for different aspects of what they need. The fact that we can deliver the full spectrum is very important.
Secondly, I we bring ten years of expertise. We have run millions of campaigns so we know what works. That meld of great technology but with expertise I really think delivers a really great performance and at the end of the day that’s really what matters to our customers is they want to see the results. They’re spending very important dollars so getting the performance and the results is key.
Laurie: Speaking of dollars the other thing that’s important to them is something they can afford. A lot of times I talk to them and oh you know it’s really affordable and I ask for pricing and well it’s about $50,000 to get started! What’s the deal with ReachLocal, how much are they in for?
Sharon: ReachEdge, which is if you like the marketing system and platform that gives you the website and all the marketing automation tools is $299 a month. After that, what you choose to spend on search engine and display marketing is dependent upon where you are, how many leads you need to generate. Clearly your budget is going to relate to what type of performance you’re looking to get.
Laurie: But $299 a month is the basic fee to be using the platform, taking advantage of all the automation?
Sharon: Absolutely, and get all of the reporting and conversion tools.
Laurie: Definitely something that most small businesses have in their wheelhouse in terms of affordability. So where can a company go to learn more about ReachLocal?
Sharon: Well you can find us on the web of course, at http://www.reachlocal.com. Or you can call us at 888-644-1321. And because we are a local business supporting local businesses we actually have a presence all over the world so we have over 20 offices across America. Typically if you’re a small business and you need somebody to come and talk to you to really help strategize with you we have somebody locally.
Laurie: That’s great. I’m here in your local New York office right now. Sharon, this has been a great introduction to ReachLocal, thank you very much. Thank you all tuning in to this SMB Spotlight.